Ghost Bands: The Wilted Flower Power Cruise

Spirits of the 60s Set Sail on Ghost Ship

by John Diliberto 2/22/2018

I know the temptation to see the bands of your youth, especially if you didn’t catch them the first time around. In recent years I’ve seen Savoy Brown with guitarist Kim Simmonds the only original member. I saw Yes, with a singer that wasn’t Jon Anderson and a keyboardist who wasn’t Rick Wakeman. And to be honest, they were both really great performances. But the nostalgia circuit can take things to extremes like the SOLD OUT Flower Power Cruise Feb. 28-March 1

You’ve got to love this. A cruise of sixties pop artists, almost none of whom have even a quarter of their original members. The question is, are they any more than tribute bands? In the case of some, yes, they definitely are. But audiences apparently don’t care as this cruise is sold out and it’s not the first one. For many people there is a lot of joy to be found in going back to the sound of their youths. And to be sure, most of these bands have top flight musicians, many probably more technically accomplished than the original members. They also probably weren’t even alive when this music was being made. But in almost all these cases, the bands are without their signature artists who have either launched solo careers, moved on to different projects, left music entirely or are dead. That makes most of these groups ghost bands as the aura of former members hang over those pretending to be something they weren’t.  There are also tribute bands like Light My Fire (The Doors), Kiss the Sky (Jimi Hendrix), and CSNSongs (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young). But it would be hard to tell these tribute groups apart from the supposed originals on board this ghost ship. Just take a look at the personnel of these ghost bands making the 2018 Flower Power Cruise. Also notice, it’s almost always someone from the rhythm section who keeps these bands going. I don’t know what that means.

Grand Funk Railroad: The headliners of the cruise have two original members, but they aren’t lead guitarist and singer and composer Mark Farner. Instead GFR are just the rhythm section of drummer, Don Brewer and bassist Mel Schacher.

Iron Butterfly: Wikipedia lists some sixty former members of this classic psychedelic band. For their current incarnation, there is nobody, I mean NOBODY from the classic line-up between 1967 and 1969.

Canned Heat: Pretty much every one of who drove the creative side of this band is dead including lead vocalist Bob “the Bear” Hite, vocalist and guitarist Al Wilson and guitarist Henry Vestine. That again, leaves the rhythm section, bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor and drummer Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra.

The Family Stone: There is no Sly Stone, which means there’s no Family Stone, regardless of founding members, saxophonist Jerry Martini and drummer Greg Errico.

The Guess Who: The only guy left here from the 60s and early 70s hit machine is drummer Garry Peterson.

The Grass Roots: There is no one from the hits making version of this group in the band.

The Association: Singer Jim Yester is the only original member of this vocal harmony group left, although Larry Ramos’ brother Del is a current member

The Cowsills: This family band had several pure pop hit singles that sounded a lot like The Partridge Family and they had the same manufactured vibe. However, they were deeper than that and beset by family turmoil which you can see in the documentary Family Band: The Cowsills Story. Although many in the band are dead now, they do have 3 family members including Bob Cowsill.

The Hollies: I just went through a Hollies binge on Spotify and had forgotten just how many incredible hit singles they had in the 1960s. Just beautifully written, harmonized and produced pop gems.

Graham Nash left the group early on, ( but hey, you can hear him imitated by CSNSongs) and now, only two members from their most productive period remain, even if one of them is singer and multi-instrumentalist Tony Hicks who brought a lot of the interesting arrangement touches to the band like the banjo on “Stop Stop Stop.”

The Buckinghams: Two original members of this group whose hits included “Kind of a Drag” and “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” remain, guitarists Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna,

Then there are those who aren’t pretending to be the original band because they pretty much were the band.

Peter Noone: He was the Herman of Herman’s Hermits and nobody cares about the other members. He was the band.

Peter Asher: He was one half of the Peter and Gordon duo, but Peter Asher has actually had bigger acclaim as a producer working extensively with James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt and going into the 21st century with Morrissey, 10,000 Maniacs and Steve Martin & Edie Brickell. I’m a little surprised he’d be on this boat but he had been doing these shows with Gordon Walker until Walker’s passing in 2009.

Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals: The singer and keyboardist of The Young Rascals, one of the most sophisticated of the 60s R&B rock bands is the only remaining member of this group, which means it should sound like the Rascals.

Mickey Dolenz: Well, it’s just Mickey, the best singer of The Monkees, but no one else from the pre-fab four is on board.

Mark Lindsay: He was the voice of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

It’s too late for you to get on board for this year’s Flower Power Cruise, but the lineup for 2019 is already booked. So you can pay $2000-$10,000 to see The Jefferson Starship with just bassist David Freiberg as the only remaining original member; The Yardbirds with just drummer Jim McCarty; The Lovin’ Spoonful with original members Joe Butler and Steve Boone, but not key players singer John Sebastian and guitarist Zal Yanovsky who died in 2002; Big Brother and the Holding Company without Janis but with bassist Peter Albin and drummer Dave Getz; The Box Tops without the late Alex Chilton; The Beach Boys with Mike Love and Bruce Johnston still flogging Brian Wilson’s legacy to death.

If you still want to put on the Tie-dye t-shirts, beads, headbands and bell-bottoms, sign on for the next ghost ship of the Flower Power Cruise, you can find them at flowerpowercruise.com.

  2 comments for “Ghost Bands: The Wilted Flower Power Cruise

  1. patricia anderson
    January 15, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    You make several good points but what matters is nobody cares! The cruise is a blast and the bands sound great and the people have the time of their lives! Most people don’t even know who the original members of these pants were! I went on the last Cruise and all of the bands that you mentioned sounded fabulous and nobody cared how many original members were in it. All we cared about was that we got to rock out to the songs of our youth and spend a fabulous week in the Sun with like-minded peace-loving people our age. I had so much fun I will never miss another flower power Cruise till the day I die. Yes, it was that good! I went as a music lover and not a Critic! Maybe that’s why I had so much fun!

    • January 15, 2019 at 2:55 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Patricia. I think I said that these bands can often have better musicians than the originals, but I was never a fan of the Beatlemania tribute show either. It just feels wrong for the reasons I mentioned. But far be it for me to be a buzz-kill on your good time. Party on and Peace!

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